Golic and Smith say A-Rodg is best QB under 30 – but do I agree? « Ol' Bag of Donuts

Golic and Smith say A-Rodg is best QB under 30 - but do I agree?

So, I’m watching “NFL Live” – why wouldn’t I be, right? Nothing screams “NFL!” like late June - and during a segment, ESPN’s Michael Smith, Mike Golic and Cris Carter debated which quarterback under 30 is the best in the league.

Smith and Golic – not the Golic from “Saved by the Bell: The College Years”, as it turns out - both put our guy Aaron Rodgers at the top of the list. Carter went with Nasty Ben (aka, Ben Roethlisberger).

You didn’t really think Carter would give love to a Packer, now did you?

Anyways, that got me to thinking: I certainly love Rodgers and have a hard time believing I’d pick any other quarterback under 30 to guide my favorite team. But, being the football geek that I am, I had to investigate it just to make sure.

(Reminder, ladies: I’m single)

My first step: Figuring out the list of candidates.

I came up with seven possible names. Keep in mind, I was pretty inclusive with the first step:

Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Rodgers and Nasty Ben. Tony Romo just turned 30 in April, so that’s why he’s not on the list. And JaMarcus Russell just barely missed the cut – barely.

Second step: Whittling down the list.

Cutler, Schaub and Ryan were the first three to fall. Cutler lacks discipline and I have major doubts about his ability to be an actual leader. My “Second Coming of Jeff George” feeling about him hasn’t subsided yet.

Schaub is certainly capable of putting up massive numbers. Last season alone, he put up 4,770 yards, 29 touchdowns and just 15 picks. Of course, last season was also the first time he made it through an entire 16 games. He needs to be better at avoiding the injury bug to earn serious consideration.

Truth be told, I think Ryan is headed for elite status…but not quite yet. His numbers from last season aren’t great (2,916 yards, 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions in 14 games) and, sometimes, he still plays like it’s a Thursday night game at Virginia Tech. In other words, he needs to work on his decision-making. But he’s there as a leader already. He’s one of the main reasons the Falcons kept playing hard even after they were eliminated from the playoffs.

That, of course, left me with four options: Rivers, Manning, Rodgers and Nasty Ben.

Each of the four brought something to the table.

Over the past two seasons, the Chargers have become Rivers’ team. He’s certainly proven he’s worthy of such a title, throwing for over 8,000 yards with 62 touchdowns and just 20 interceptions in that time span. Rivers also has a swagger to his game that I like. He’s cocky, but it never clouds his on-field performance.

Manning’s a great fit for the running game/playaction passing system that the Giants run and has never buckled in the face of pressure that would wreck most of us. Seriously, can you imagine being Peyton’s little brother and playing in New York City? And, oh yeah – he’s got that Super Bowl ring, too, which never hurts your case.

Rodgers has put up two massive seasons and, like Manning, has never been broken by the massive amount of pressure he’s consistently been under. He’s also quieted the naysayers who questioned his toughness prior to taking over as starter. As his skill position players – like Jermichael Finley – continue to grow, he should only get better.

Nasty Ben is capable of putting up ridiculous numbers – I believe us Packers fans saw that firsthand last season – and has great improvisational skills. He’s also, hands down, the toughest quarterback in the league to tackle (there’s no way he plays at the 241 pounds he’s listed at). And if Manning’s one Super Bowl ring is impressive, what can you say about the two Nasty Ben has to his credit?

Again, though, I had to make the cuts.

The first name to go was Nasty Ben’s. The two rings are great, but with a nickname like that – and the allegations that brought on such a nickname – is there any way I could pick him? No.

Down to three. Easy enough, right?

Here’s why I didn’t pick Manning: His overall numbers. In five seasons as a full-time starter, he’s averaged roughly 3,500 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and 16 interceptions a season. Those numbers aren’t bad at all, nor is his completion rate (consistently hovers in the high 50-low 60 percent range), but they don’t necessarily scream “franchise quarterback.” Now I know there’s more to that status than mere numbers, but I wonder how Manning would fare in an offense that was passing-based.

You probably think you know what’s coming next. Guess again.

Here’s why I didn’t pick Rodgers: The postseason. I’m fully aware that he’s only been at the helm for two seasons and that one player – even a quarterback – can only do so much. But with the competition he’s up against here, I had to factor in that he’s 0-1 in the second season. If I was to go back and do this list again in a year or two, Rodgers very well could have some gaudy postseason victory numbers. I hope that’s the case. But, as of now, it isn’t. So, looking at it objectively, he can’t be my selection.

My choice would be Rivers.

He’s got the numbers (see: above) and has had success in the postseason (a 3-4 record, yes, but also an AFC Championship Game appearance). He’s faced his share of pressure – the offense became his only after it was LaDainian Tomlinson’s – and has put up his numbers without the help of a big-time wideout (Antonio Gates is a tight end, remember). Despite his cocky demeanor, he seems like a solid guy off-the-field, as he’s married with four kids. Not that that’s always stopped guys before, but as of now, he’s steered clear of any trouble. All in all, I’d feel the most comfortable handing over the keys to him.

That’s my take. What’s yours?

-Chris Lempesis

3 comments to Golic and Smith say A-Rodg is best QB under 30 – but do I agree?

  • PackersRS

    Rodgers. But it’s an inch of a difference.

    You’re right that Rivers has the better postseason record. He’s also 2 years older than Rodgers, and has played 2 more years. He inherited a very complete team, that had the best RB of the league and the best TE of the league. In his first year as a starter, he went 0-1 to the Pats in the postseason, throwing 0 tds and 1 pick. In his second year, he advanced against the Titans, he had a good game, with 300 yards, 1 Td and 1 pick. But their D didn’t allow a single TD. Against, the Colts, finally he had a franchise qb game, with 400 yards, 3 tds and 2 ints, and won. But then he lost to the Pats in a game he threw for under 200 yards and 3 picks, with 2 tds.

    So, I agree, so far, Rivers is the better QB. But that’s not the question. With the same age and starting experience, Rodgers was the better QB, and he was in a team that was totally focused on passing, contrary to Rivers’ team, who had, I repeat, the BEST RB in the league.

    Rivers is definitely elite, and is more proven, but Rodgers’ ceiling is much higher. In the game he lost in the postseason, he actually had an incredible game. In Rivers’ first 4 postseason games, only 1 he produced like a true franchise QB. In another he was very good, and the other two he didn’t play well, and either lost or was carried by his team.

  • me

    sounds to me like you talked yourself into rivers. you over thought it.

    until last season the chargers were an overall better team than the Packers. football’s the ultimate TEAM game. i feel you put too much weight on postseason wins.

    here’s the real question – would you trade Rodgers for rivers (straight up) right now?
    you know you wouldn’t. c’mon… be honest.

  • The yooper

    River’s is a nice player but I’d take Rogers, for what I believe he will do in the future. The only negative you here about ARod is he gets sacked to much or hangs on to the ball to long. If you look at the last 8 games of the season that was not much of a problem. Long term I would take Rogers over any QB out there and for one season next only Manning or Brady over Rogers and that is not a clear cut given for me.

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